Have you guys heard of Inktober? It’s a drawing challenge developed by fellow illustrator, Jake Parker in 2009. Every October, artists and art-enthusiasts around the world create an ink drawing daily for the month, sharing their work each day online with the #Inktober hashtags.
Sounds pretty easy, right? I mean c’mon, we’re all creatives here. How hard can it be to carve out a few minutes to draw a lil’ something each day?
Welp, it turns out it’s very hard. I remember not too long ago when I struggled so much with drawing consistently. I wanted to be drawing every day. I desperately wanted to. I knew I should be, and I told myself I would, over and over. But somehow, the hours and then the days would slip by and I wouldn’t draw a single line.
I’d get busy with all the other things I had to do. I’d get overwhelmed not knowing what to draw. I’d be afraid I would draw something terrible and end up feeling worse. But a lot of times, I’d just choose not to draw because it was easier. I’ll do it tomorrow…
Inktober was the kick in the butt I needed. I forget now exactly which year it was, but the year I found out about Inktober marked a major shift in my drawing output. I saw a tweet about it and thought, “Yes! This is what I need! This will give me the motivation and accountability to actually draw every day!”
// Developing a Drawing Habit
And surprisingly, it did. Did I draw every single day that first Inktober? No. I missed a couple days in the beginning. It wasn’t perfect. But having the ongoing motivation, and knowing that I was supposed to be posting on Instagram each day, made me jump back on the drawing wagon way quicker than I had before. All in all, I only missed a few days. It was more than I had ever drawn. But more importantly, it was the most consistent I had ever drawn.
A funny thing happened while I was going through that first monthly challenge. I started to want to draw each day. Once I had gotten over the hump of the first week or so, and had dragged myself to my sketchbook for days in a row, something clicked in my brain that made me start to crave drawing. I no longer had to work as hard to convince myself to draw. I just wanted to.
I was developing a drawing habit.
// Drawing more leads to drawing more
If you haven’t experienced this sense of drawing nirvana, don’t worry. It’s never too late to develop a drawing habit. And don’t be intimidated and think your drawing habit has to be perfect. Trust me, mine definitely isn’t. There are days where I don’t draw, even when I know I should — particularly when I’m on vacation or away from home.
But the difference is how long those lapses last. It used to be days and days. Now it’s just one day, and it happens much less frequently. And I don’t beat myself up about it, I just get back to drawing.
All this is to say:
// Consistency is the most important aspect of improving your drawing skills.
You don’t want to burn out creating huge pieces of detailed artwork every single day. But drawing something, no matter how small or how simple, will do wonders for your attitude toward drawing, comfort while drawing, and will help you begin to develop and evolve your style of drawing.
Drawing consistently is hard for sure. It requires commitment and willpower. But the more you draw, the more it builds on itself. The drawings compound, and you’ll notice with each line and each day that it becomes easier and more enjoyable to draw.
// How to start drawing consistently
If you’re interested in drawing more consistently, here are some actionable steps you can take:
Commit to a daily drawing challenge.
It doesn’t have to be Inktober, but Inktober is going on right now, so it’s a great time to jump in! Don’t worry about missing the first couple days, just jump in now.
Inktober is also a huge community that’s really supportive and encouraging. It’s inspiring to see the output of all the other artists too, and will motivate you to keep up!
Figure out when you like to draw best.
I read all the time about how you should do the most important thing first every morning. But for drawing, that doesn’t work for me — I’m too groggy.
I like to draw best in the late afternoon/early evening, when I feel most relaxed and have gotten a lot of stuff done. During that time, I feel I can really let go and just draw.
Don’t worry about other people’s schedules. Find what works for you, and commit to drawing during that time for a while.
Pick a theme
For Inktober, Jake Parker creates a list of daily prompts for people to draw, but I — and a lot of other artists — prefer to pick a theme that’s consistent across the drawings for the month.
It’s a great way to practice something you’re not that great at, or to challenge yourself with drawing something you normally don’t for a whole month. In the past I’ve chosen themes of drawing dogs, sea creatures, architecture, and daily comics. This year, I’m trying to challenge myself by drawing historical fashion!